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Family is thankful for longtime Mary Bridge nurse Karen Crosby

The Atkins family credits a nurse at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital for keeping them at ease during their son's cancer treatment.

By Kortney Scroger

In March 2017, the Atkins family received the news they never expected: Their youngest child, 7-year-old Cole, had leukemia.

“I remember walking into the clinic and seeing this boy with no hair thinking, ‘Poor thing.’ It never crossed our minds that could be us,” explains Cole’s mother, Jennifer Atkins.

Two years after this overwhelming diagnosis, the Atkins family credits Karen Crosby, RN, a nurse at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, for keeping them at ease and caring for them throughout their journey.

Crosby has been providing care for families like the Atkins at Mary Bridge Children’s for 30 years.

“Mary Bridge has always felt like a family to me,” Crosby says. “I think that’s because we all have a common goal and that’s to take care of kids.”

In January 2016, Crosby left her 26-year post in the hospital and transferred to the hematology/oncology outpatient clinic where she treats children with a wide range of childhood cancers and blood disorders, like Cole.

“Over the years I developed a love for oncology kids. I tended to gravitate toward those kids and those families,” Crosby explains. “I was a little worried about the change, but I haven’t regretted it for a second.”

Jennifer and the entire Atkins family are grateful that Crosby made the switch.

“Karen has made this experience as flawless as possible,” Jennifer says. “When she’s in our clinic room, Cole is her kid. I know she’s going to take care of us until the minute we walk out that door.”

Karen Crosby with Atkins family

For Crosby, nursing is more than just a job; it’s a calling. Her number-one priorities are the children and the families that she cares for every day.

“We, as nurses, are patient advocates,” she explains.  “It’s our job to have a relationship with them, making sure they get the care they need when they need it and how they need it.”

Although the Atkins family misses seeing Crosby more regularly, they are happy to report that Cole (who is now nearly 10 years old) is in the maintenance stages of his treatment, visiting the clinic only once a month.

“We are so thankful to have this team on our team,” Jennifer says. “Every nurse here has been out of this world. Karen and the other nurses have helped us make good out of a terrible situation.”

Cole can’t help but agree.

“Everyone here makes me feel comfortable. They are like family,” Cole says. “Especially Karen. When she is accessing my port I don’t feel nervous. I know that she is going to do a great job.”

Donor-supported programs like Child Life Services help make Karen’s job of treating Mary Bridge patients a little easier. She calls them a “bright spot in what can be some pretty dark times.” You can support these programs by donating to Where the Need Is Greatest.